125 years of WSU: University to celebrate its history as anniversary nears

A+banner+celebrating+Wichita+State+University%27s+125th+anniversary+hangs+on+a+university+sign+at+21st+and+Hillside.+WSU+is+planning+a+number+of+events+to+mark+the+anniversary.

DANIEL CAUDILL/THE SUNFLOWER

A banner celebrating Wichita State University's 125th anniversary hangs on a university sign at 21st and Hillside. WSU is planning a number of events to mark the anniversary.

Wichita State University is gearing up to celebrate its 125th anniversary — otherwise known as a “quasquicentennial.” 

WSU was originally founded as a private school called Fairmount College in 1886 but did not begin hosting classes until 1895, according to the Kansas Historical Society. It transitioned to a municipal university in 1926, before becoming a state university nearly 40 years later. Wichita State marks its official founding date as Sept. 11, 1895. 

Carmen Hytche, director of special events and community relations, has been leading the committee planning WSU’s 125th anniversary for over a year. And while events will look a bit different due to mask and social distancing requirements, she said she hopes to deliver a meaningful celebration. 

“We had a long list of things we mapped out to do through the course of the year, however we’ve been making some adjustments and trying to pivot,” she said. “Being able to celebrate all those things and what we’re doing now and how far we’ve come … we’re looking at celebrating ourselves.”

Events on the calendar include WuShock’s birthday, a series of homecoming events, and President Jay Golden’s official installation. 

The 100th or 150th anniversaries may seem more important, Hytche said, but the 125th anniversary allows an opportunity to reflect on change within the WSU community since its centennial celebration in 1995. 

“It’s also an opportunity to look at what’s happened in the last 25 years and [to fill] in that gap for our 150th,” she said. 

As part of the plan to celebrate WSU’s history, Hytche said she asked all of the colleges to share important dates and events within their various schools and departments. 

“The actual anniversary is about the whole university; it’s not about one specific segment or part,” She said. “It’s all the college [and] all the departments. We all have a thread in the fabric of the history of Wichita State University.”

One piece of that history is shrouded in mystery: a sundial gifted to the university by the class of 1934. 

WSU plans to rededicate the sundial, which disappeared from the university for 60 years before it was returned to campus in 2014. The university also hopes to shed some light on the sundial’s history and its disappearance. 

“Number one. . where [was it] for 60 years?” Hytche said. “It’s a very cool mystery that would be wonderful if it could be solved or at least some holes filled in.”

The 125th-anniversary celebration will stretch from July 1 to June 30, 2021. Click here for a list of planned events, which are subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.